To the casual observer the monitoring system of the DB4 would seem the same as any other mixer of its type, but it isn’t. It’s unnervingly weird.
When you press a cue button the LED behind it glows red to show that you have cued it – as it should. But if you then press the cue button of another channel the previously cued channel ceases to be heard in the headphones. To cue more than one channel you have to press the cue buttons of the channels you want to hear simultaneously, which makes me feel a bit uneasy. It’s like I’m aggressively patronising the DB4 because it can’t be trusted to carry out the simplest of tasks.
Surely I’m not the only person that would prefer a channel to remain cued until I’ve made the decision to switch it off?
Tinnitus enthusiasts will be pleased to know the headphone amp is extremely powerful and delivers ear splitting noise from the second notch onwards. The cue-mix control lets you crossfade between any cued channels and the master output. The master output is permanently cued and if no other channel is cued the master is heard at full volume no matter where the cue-mix dial is positioned. When one or more channels are cued the master can be cross-faded with the cued signals as normal.
The cue-mix feature isn’t as well implemented on the DB4 as it is on most other mixers. When the control rests at its central detent the audio should be a clear mix of the master and cued channels, but it isn’t. It’s indistinct, watery. And by that I mean it’s like looking at a reflection in a lake. The clarity of the reflection is constantly altered by the rippling of the water’s surface, and so it is with the DB4. The clarity of the crossfade is not uniform. It’s unbalanced. Move the dial to the left or right of the centre detent and you can’t hear the other track very well. What the cue-mix feature needs to be is a linear progression between the cued channels to the master.
As with most things on the DB4, there’s an ample amount of settings that you can adjust. You can alter the trim level (between +12 dB and -28 dB), for example, or select split-cue monitoring. You can also alter the master signal that is directed to the headphones, with a choice between a cleanfeed signal (so you hear the master without microphone audio) and a normal signal which is the master output with microphone included. These settings are adjusted using the DB4’s menu.
Another great feature of the DB4’s monitoring system is the ability to plug either 3.5mm or 6.3mm headphone jacks into the DB4. This is handy if you’ve left your adapter at home.
Other than a type A USB port for importing and saving mixer settings there are no surprises here, just a peak meter with master and booth output controls.
Annoyingly, the peak meter stops displaying the master output when you press one of the channel cue buttons and displays stereo peak levels for the cued channel instead. There is no way to stop it from doing this. I also found that I had to crank the master dial up to 8 or 9 to get the best out of the DB4.
The ability to save and load settings is a truly neat feature. Saving your settings to a USB drive takes no longer than 2 seconds and loading settings is near instantaneous. This feature is great if you’re going to be using a DB4 other than your own (perhaps at a club) and you want to mirror the settings of your own DB4 on the club DB4. Don’t worry about having a USB drive hanging out of your mixer though, because once you’ve loaded or saved your settings there’s no need to keep it there.